View Full Version : People are fundamentally good.

Trooper Keith
02-07-11, 06:56 PM
Today my faith in humanity was boosted. I love people, and believe that they are fundamentally good.

I work in a pharmacy in a very low income city with the highest rate of drug abuse in the State. One day, several months ago, a woman came in and needed a prescription for Suboxone. We tried to bill Medicaid for her, but for some reason they just would not pay - her primary picked up most of it, and it was a $9 copay. She, naturally, did not have the money. I spent upwards of 20 minutes trying to get the codes right so Medicaid would pony up, but I just couldn't get it to work.

Eventually, she told me, somewhat dismayed, that she had an appointment with her drug and alcohol counselor and she was going to be charged a late fee. She asked what her options were. It, being $9, was not a big deal, just over an hour of work, and I didn't want her to go without her Suboxone, lest she relapse and fall back to opiates. So I paid for her medication. She told me she'd pay me back in a week, at the first of the month, when her welfare check came.

She accidentally forgot her Medicaid card, so that night I called her, told her I had her card and to come pick it up, and asked if they had accepted my note and waived her late fee. She said they had, and I was happy.

In my heart, I knew I had done good, though I fully expected her to sell the Suboxone, buy some opiates, and never pay me back. I was okay with that, because there was the chance it would help her.

People said, "Keith, why would you do that? You don't have much money." And I said, "if I don't have $9 for my fellow man, I don't have $9." I felt deeply empathetic for this poor woman who was taking steps to battle her addiction, and I wanted to give her a chance.

The first of the month came and went, and so did the next, and the next. I had long forgotten about it, writing it off as a good gesture for a human in need, and put it out of my mind.

Today, about four or five months later, I was working at the register. I heard my coworker at the walkup window say "okay, fine" all exasperated like. I continued waiting on my customer, when my coworker came up. She handed me $9, and said "the woman at the walkup said she owes you this, you paid for her prescription?"

I never got a chance to thank her, and it having been months ago, I forgot her name and couldn't call her. She was gone by the time I finished waiting on my line.

But she paid me back.

Trooper Keith
02-07-11, 07:11 PM
And you know what else I just realized?

Her spending $9 paying me back today means she's not spending $9 on opiates, which might be in some small part because I paid for her Suboxone months ago and helped her with her treatment. =]

02-11-11, 04:30 PM
Well done.

02-11-11, 04:36 PM
Your kindness may have planted something in her heart that may help her long term.

Sometimes just knowing someone cares can make a huge difference.

02-11-11, 05:28 PM
Big ups, Keith! That's awesome!

I do find it odd that we're always drawing this stark distinction between people being fundamentally good or bad. Why is that the dichotomy we're working with? Does it have to be a purely polar system where it's one or the other and nothing in between?

I believe people are fundamentally neutral. They're not good. They're not bad. There is no moral predisposition. (In any case, any moral predisposition would require a near-absolute moral framework within which to be evaluated, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me either, but that's tangential.) We are who we are and we do what we do - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's neither. Sometimes our intentions are malicious, and sometimes they're beneficent. Even if you stack every action and intention a person has ever had and will ever have together and compared "good" versus "bad" (assuming, of course, that such a comparison with real definitions is even possible), and even if one outweighed the other, this still wouldn't make someone fundamentally one or the other, because the contextual variables are just far too complicated and inextricably intertwined in every single event.

Do I over-think this? Probably. But I believe this question deserves the energy, because how we evaluate other humans at a fundamental level often indicates how we will judge those humans and form our own beliefs on a macro-level. These beliefs manifest in things such as politics and religion, and if we're given to polarizing, it's easy to settle into an "us versus them" mentality. And it's very easy to vilify that which is "them".

I'm not saying Keith is doing any of the above. I think his personal conviction that humans are fundamentally good is serving both him and society very well, as is evidenced by the OP. But I do find that automatic distinction somewhat strange and potentially damaging on a grand scale.

02-11-11, 06:05 PM
I think the title is Keith's thinking at this time.

I wouldn't pick this part. It's a nice heart warming post. :)

(BTW - not trying to attack, just think it should be kept lighthearted)

02-11-11, 06:18 PM
Aw that reminds me of that philosopher's stone parable about the hiker passing the stranger with the knapsack. Also, this passage

[The master] is good to people who are good.
She is also good to people who aren't good.
This is true goodness.

She trusts people who are trustworthy.
She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy.
This is true trust.

The Master's mind is like space.
People don't understand her.
They look to her and wait.
She treats them like her own children.

from verse 49 of the Tao Te Ching
translation by Stephen Mitchell

switch she for he yadda yadda

02-11-11, 06:43 PM
I think the title is Keith's thinking at this time.

I wouldn't pick this part. It's a nice heart warming post. :)

(BTW - not trying to attack, just think it should be kept lighthearted)

I'm fine with that. Didn't think it was an attack at all.

I did make sure to congratulate Keith and point out that I don't think he's a symptom of any potential pitfalls I mentioned. I agree that this was a very heart-warming post.

But having read many of Keith's other posts, something tells me he'll be more intrigued than offended by my semi-hijack. :D

02-11-11, 06:51 PM
Ah ok. I'm still learning people's personalties and they dynamics on here. ;)

02-11-11, 07:11 PM
good job keith, It is moments like this that make it all worth while!

02-14-11, 12:38 AM
Awesome post, well done. I have no doubt that you aided in that persons recovery in many ways.

I believe people are basically good.

03-21-11, 02:21 AM
Keith, I know from personal expirience of being in recovery for 5+ years that you did aid in her recovery that day. You showed her that it is possible for some to look at a person taking Suboxone and realize the efforts they are making. I still have moments when I allow my past to be known that I am judged because when people hear the word, "Addict," they only picture a junkie. It is possible that we do recover and learn to live life on life's terms. It is possible for a person to change although it isn't easy, probably the most difficult thing I've ever done. I do feel your in a unique position though because you understand what Suboxone is and how it differs from Methadone. All we addicts need once in a while is for someone to let us know that we are worth it.